Film: Tiger Zinda Hai
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sudeep, Angad Bedi, Ivan Rodrigues, Sajjad Delfroze, Kumud Mishra, Girish Karnad, Anjalie Gupta, Neha Hinge, Paresh Rawal, Nawab Shah
Director: Ali Abbas ZafarUsman
Rating: * * ½
This sequel to Yash Raj’s Ek Tha Tiger is a decently orchestrated thriller choreographed in elementary fashion with none of the high tension and thrills expected of an A grade actioner. It begins 8 years after the incidents of the earlier film and has our semi-retired indestructible RAW agent doing the honours.
Our visibly puffed-up, aging hero Avinash Singh Rathore ex RAW agent codenamed Tiger (Salman Khan) has garnered the blessings of his Pakistani wife ex-super ISI sleuth Zoya(Katrina) to get out of semi-retirement in Austria, and go on an out-of-the-blue mission commissioned by his ex-boss Shenoy (Girish Karnad), to rescue 40 Indian and Pakistani nurses kidnapped by the ISC (read ISIS), a fictional Caliphate army of trained militants, in Iraq. Shenoy is given to making psycho-pathetic dialogues regarding his super sleuth protégé’s legendary prowess.
So, if by chance you don’t remember what happened in Ek Tha Tiger rest assured you’d get fully acquainted with the brief that our super-hero is one of a kind so much so that RAW is forced to turn to the rogue agent and in spite of his Pakistani connection. The undercover agent’s attempt at a covert operation is basically a ‘Rambo’ run. His team consisting of an electronics expert, a bomb diffuser and a sharp shooter have nothing much to do but be his side-kicks.
The RAW and ISI team are so obviously endowed with testosterone that they would stand out in any crowd – not only for their bulked-up bodies per se but also their abrasive, non-conformist attitude. Only a fool would be convinced about their intention to stay under cover.
After a surreal moment where the RAW and ISI agents embark on a face-off while Tiger and Zoya get into an affectionate and intimate clinch, they manage to negotiate peace and camaraderie for the greater good. In fact, the theme of getting the two warring nations to work towards a common goal is commendable but the manner in which it is brought about smacks of contrivance and hyperbole. References to Indo-Pak marriages and how they play a role in bringing the two countries closer is forgivable I guess.
Director Ali Abbas Zafar who also co-scripted this effort makes sure we know that Tiger is unstoppable. The Tiger Zinda Hai motif plays on in varying fashion giving us a portend of things to come here and in the future. The award-winning Malayalam film Take-Off was a more realistic and empathetic account of the same rescue mission. This one though is testosterone fuelled and has physical action chops that would be laughed at because of the sheer idiocy displayed in its choreography. Imagine gun-toting militants suddenly engaging in hand-to-hand combat only so our hero can look good… In fact, that’s what this film amounts to mostly.
Making Salman Khan look passable. The edits manage a massive cover-up for his sluggishness, action choreography is designed to give Salman the upper hand, while the camerawork, make-up and digital touch-ups take care to make his body look sculpted and his face a little less puffy. But despite all these careful manipulations there’s not enough grittiness, realism or energy to be had here. Jingoism and pop-patriotism are pretty much an expected in such a scenario and it’s evident in ample measure. The Villain Abu Usman played by Sajjad Delafrooz is given the right amount of deadliness both in expression and action and Kaif does well to look swift and skilful in her brief runs at action. Hollywood action/stunt director Tom Struthers has done a piece-meal job orchestrating the action set-pieces that come at you in disconnected fashion. Abu Dhabi, dressed up as a bludgeoned war-torn Iraq is pretty much convincing. Marcin Laskawiec’s cinematography lends a fair bit of realism to the enterprise but the lack of directorial chutzpah and the lack of performance strength will leave you dissatisfied. In fact, the constant harping about an American strike in 2 hours puts paid to all enjoyment. Who would believe that America would indeed inform the ISC well in advance before hitting their base – when the idea is to obliterate the entire terrorist army?
Ali Abbas Zafar tries hard to make this augmented experience both racy and exciting, but all his tricks and treats are laid out in un-invigorating fashion. That might not be a hurdle for the fans though!